TOKYO, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan stressed Monday that the raising of Japan's consumption tax rate could take at least two or three years as the government in the meantime seeks to strengthen the economy and improve the nation's fiscal situation.
Kan, an advocate of doubling the current 5 percent sales tax to combat Japan's mounting public debt, said at a press conference he plans to engage opposition parties and the electorate before a decision is made to raise the tax rate.
"At the earliest... it will take at least two years, three years or a bit longer," Kan said to reporters Monday at his office.
"What I am stressing is that the government must build a strong economy, a strong fiscal situation and strong social welfare all at the same time. I'm not saying building a stronger fiscal situation has to come first," the premiere said.
The prime minister in response to whether or not he plans to call a general election before the tax rise said: "Whenever a major tax reform is carried out, we need to provide our people with an opportunity to make a decision," hinting that the notion was not out of the question.
Kan also said that he intends to enhance and solidify ties with the U.S. during a Group of 20 summit to be held in Canada later this week, at which the Japanese leader will hold talks with his U. S. counterpart President Barack Obama and reconfirm Japan's commitment to the U.S.-Japan bilateral alliance.
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